Trampolining by moonlight

1071570_10151589945942632_184669496_oTonight, I was late coming home, because I’d been asked to talk about reviewing and entertainment writing with an evening journalism class at Eastern Michigan University.

So it was dark, a little after 8 p.m., when I parked on our street and let myself into the house. Lights were on, but the place was silent – in a way that NO house with a 5 year old and a 2 year old in it is silent.

I walked around and checked each empty room, puzzling out the possibilities. Joe’s car was in the driveway, so they had to have walked wherever they went. The nearby café we used to frequent for post-dinner smoothies recently closed, so that left the library down the block as the prime suspect.

I grabbed my keys, locked up, and trudged back out to the sidewalk.

But then I thought I heard faint giggles and voices, coming from somewhere in the area of our house.

Could Joe and the girls be outside, in our backyard, though the moon and the streetlights were the only sources of light at this point?

Yep. As I walked down our long driveway, I spotted silhouetted figures bobbing up and down on the trampoline, and heard peals of high-pitched, little girl laughter.

What the what? Continue reading

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The Nuclear Option

The other night after dinner, Lily begged me to go with her to ask whether a neighborhood boy – whose house we pass every day as we walk to and from Lily’s preschool – could come over to play on the trampoline in our backyard.

I’d previously mentioned Lily’s interest in playing to the boy’s mom, so I agreed to help carry out Lily’s plan (and yes, she DOES always have one).

Indeed, because we’d run into the family earlier that day, and suggested the possibility of a post-dinner get-together, the boy – I’ll call him William – spotted Lily as we approached and burst out the door to accept her invitation.

All good, right?

We walk back to our house, and the kids jump on the trampoline for a few minutes. Then Lily decides she wants to change into her bathing suit and run through the sprinkler. Now, as it happens, she’s so excited that she’s had an accident, anyway; but then I worry about William not having his swimsuit with him. His mother quickly says William can just wear his shorts, though, and Lily’s giddiness at having a new friend over to her house instantly ratchets up several notches.

So the two of them run through the sprinkler a couple of times, until Lily decides that she wants to fill the kiddie pool with water and go in that next – and she kind of orders William to do the same, even though he seems initially uninterested.

“Lily, you should ask him if he wants to go in. It’s up to him,” I say, but she’s like a coked-up hummingbird by this point and doesn’t hear a word, doesn’t change her bossy tone.

“She’s just excited,” I tell myself. “Nothing is making it through those little ears just now. Cut her a little extra slack until she get a bit more used to William being here.”

Joe arrives back home with Neve at about this time, having taken her downtown to an outdoor concert for kids. The poor little pigtailed baby is konked out in her stroller, so Joe, after chatting with William’s mom for a few minutes, takes Neve inside to get her jammied up for bed.

Meanwhile, in the pool, things slowly go off the rails. William agrees to come in as the hose fills the pool, and Lily suddenly gets obsessed about seeing his underwear under his shorts (“Let it go, Lily,” I tell her – and the source of all this is another blog post altogether, people); she also starts randomly throwing things like a large plastic watering can, with no regard for whom it might hurt on its way down.

I sternly tell Lily not to throw it again, but she’s just as oblivious to my voice as before. She starts splashing William, who asks her to stop it. She promises him she will; but then, moments later, she points the hose at him again, and I see the watering can go airborne again, too.

That’s the instant when some switch inside me gets flipped on – some recognition that Lily is way out of control, and that suddenly, the only option is the nuclear option. Continue reading